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The Artists


Praised by the New York Times for her “luminous voice” and “intensely expressive interpretations,” and named “remarkable, artistically mature” and “a singer to watch” by Opera News, American soprano Sarah Shafer performs with opera companies including The Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Glyndebourne, Opera Philadelphia, San Diego Opera, Cincinnati Opera, and Tulsa Opera. Equally at home in standard and contemporary repertoire, she has created leading roles in world premiere productions with San Francisco Opera, and debuted works by renowned composers Richard Danielpour, John Harbison, and Poul Ruders. She has appeared in concert with many orchestras including the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, the San Antonio Symphony, the Utah Symphony, the National Orchestra of Mexico, and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

An avid chamber musician and recitalist, she regularly collaborates with pianist Richard Goode at venues including Carnegie Hall and Atlanta’s Spivey Hall, and sings at prominent festivals throughout the United States and abroad, including the Oregon Bach Festival, Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, the Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago, Bard Music Festival, and the Liszt Academy in Budapest, Hungary. Sarah was a 2014 Astral Artists winner. She spent five summers as a resident artist at the Marlboro Music Festival. Recordings include the debut of Richard Danielpour’s chamber work, “Talking to Aphrodite” with Naxos Records, Poul Ruder’s opera The Thirteenth Child with Bridge Records, and works of Benjamin C.S. Boyle with Lyric Fest and Navona Records.

Amy Yovanovich - Mezzo-Soprano

Ms. Yovanovich started singing as a child. She is a 1989 graduate of Elizabethtown Area High School, Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania.  After high school she served as lead soloist at St. James Episcopal Church in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Amy has studied voice/opera extensively at the Pennsylvania Academy of Music in Lancaster, PA. Ms. Yovanovich has also studied under Mr. John Darrenkamp, a well-known veteran of the Metropolitan Opera Company in New York City and currently studies with Ms. Kyle C. Engler, Mezzo-Soprano, Baltimore, Maryland.

She has performed with the Pennsylvania Academy of Music Opera Theatre Workshop, Lancaster and Harrisburg Opera Companies, Reading Pops Orchestra & Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra. She has performed in a number of operas, including, Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte as Dorabella, Bizet’s Carmen as Carmen and Mennotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors as the Mother. Ms. Yovanovich has also performed many oratorios, including Verdi & Mozart Requiem, Handel’s Messiah and Judas Maccabeus, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass and Beethoven’s 5th Symphony. She has also performed in several productions at the Fulton Opera House including The Sound of Music as Mother Abbess, in Rags as Rosa, in Ragtime as Sarah’s Friend, in Carousel as Netty Fowler and Oliver as Widow Corney.

In March of 1998, Ms. Yovanovich was the recipient of the prestigious Oxnard Gold Medal, First Place Award in the American Traditions Competition in Savannah, Georgia, sponsored by Savannah On Stage.  She also was Honorable Mention at the 1998 Metropolitan Opera District Auditions, finalist in the 1999 National Federation of Music Clubs Competition, and a winner in the 2000 Connecticut Opera Guild Competition.  In February of 2003, she made her non-musical debut with Ephrata ACT as Berenice Sadie Brown in Carson McCullers’ “The Member of the Wedding.” She is a frequent guest artist and soloist throughout the Central Pennsylvania region. Amy is currently Executive Director and vocal instructor for the State Street Academy of Music in Harrisburg.


Tenor Timothy Bentch’s first singing experiences took place practicing scales on the tractor and in the silo as he worked on the family farm and singing in his local Mennonite church. Eventually his singing led him to a master’s degree at the acclaimed Curtis Institute of Music. For twelve years he lived in Hungary serving as a missionary and an opera singer. He sang at all the leading venues in this country appearing before presidents and prime ministers with many television appearances and radio broadcasts. At the Hungarian State Opera, he premiered new productions as Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni, Belmonte in The Abduction, Nencio in L’Infeldelta delusa by Haydn and the Evangelist in a semi-staged version of Bach’s

Saint Matthew Passion. Other roles with the Hungarian State Opera include Ferrando in Cosi fan tutte, Tamino in The Magic Flute, Tito in La Clemenza di Tito, and Alfredo in La Traviata. His performed opera repertoire of over 40 roles also includes such roles as Mozart’s Mitridate, Nemorino in The Elixir of Love, Edguardo in Lucia, Almaviva in The Barber of Seville, Ismaele in Nabucco, Fenton in Falstaff, Tom Rakewell in The Rake’s Progress, four roles by Benjamin Britten, and numerous baroque operas – Jupiter in Semele, Nero in The Coronation of Poppea, Monteverdi’s Ulyssis, and Orfeo – a performance that marked the opening of the new theater in the Hungarian National Palace of the Arts in 2005. His performances have taken him to many other countries including the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Russia, Bulgaria, Hong Kong, France, Malta, Israel, Russia, the UK, and Germany.

In symphonic repertoire, he has performed the entire standard repertoire from renaissance and baroque to the large works of Mahler and Verdi. Highlights have included the Evangelists in the Bach Passions, the Dream of Geronius by Elgar, and Mahler’s 8th Symphony which he recorded for Naxos. His recording was lauded by critics winning the “Recording of the Month” by Sterophile Magazine. Bentch’s performance was described as “bright, confident, and heroic, and his “Blicket auf!” is stunning.” Another critic wrote, “Bentch’s top B-flats and Bs are as heroic as his sweet singing is sweet. His “Blicket auf,” a moment that can cause fear and trembling, is stirring in all the right ways.” A review in the BBC Music Magazine praised Timothy Bentch’s “heroic tenor” as one of the saving graces of a recording of Janacek’s Glagolitic Mass with the Warsaw Philharmonic. He has sung with the philharmonic orchestras of Lille, Strasbourg, Avignon, Saint Petersburg, Sofia, Warsaw, the Israeli Chamber Orchestra, the Ars Nova Symphony in Chicago, the Silicon Valley Symphony in San Jose, CA, the South Dakota Symphony, the National Symphony of Costa Rica, and the Hungarian National Philharmonic.

Timothy is the co-founder of the Crescendo Summer Institute ( in Hungary, a classical music festival, now celebrating its 16th season. He was also active as a voice teacher and his former students sing in many of the leading opera houses of Europe. In recent years he has devoted more time to pastoral ministry. He has a Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary.


Steven Condy enjoys a career filled with notoriety and acclaim for his creative portrayals of the great “buffo” roles and is admired not only for his robust and nuanced voice, but also for his natural acting ability.  This season, Mr. Condy reprised the title role of Don Pasquale with the Brevard Festival Orchestra and joined the esteemed roster of The Metropolitan Opera for their production of La bohème. Renowned for his interpretation of Dr. Bartolo in Il barbiere di Siviglia, recently, the Boston Music Intelligencer raved of his “most delightfully surprising and truly brilliant performance…the agility of his voice, not only in negotiating the vocal roller-coasters, but also in creating comically nuanced coloring….” The title role in Verdi’s Falsaff is another signature role in Mr. Condy’s repertoire, which he performed at companies such as Utah Opera, Indianapolis Opera, Chautauqua Opera, Kentucky Opera, Opera San José, and most recently, Opera Delaware. Of his Falstaff, Opera News hailed his performance as “hilariously larger-than-life yet a totally believable and sympathetic Sir John.” This season, he will perform the role of Scarpia in Tosca with Opera Carolina, as well as Major General Stanley in The Pirates of Penzance with Opera Grand Rapids.  He holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Hartford and a Master of Music degree from Yale University’s School of Music.  He also holds the position of Music Recruitment and Events Coordinator at Cairn University, where he also serves as adjunct faculty and co-director of Opera Theater.

CLAIR H. LEAMAN, Conductor

Clair received his Bachelor of Music degree from Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey, where he was a member of the world-renowned Westminster Choir. He has studied choral conducting with Robert Simpson, Robert Carwithen and Arthur Sjogren. Clair founded the Chester County Christian Chorale in 1976 and has since conducted the group in numerous performances of Handel’s Messiah, Haydn’s Creation, Bach’s St. Matthew Passion and other choral works. For over 30 years , he has organized and conducted the Messiah Sing-a-longs in Chester and Lancaster Counties.


The players in the orchestra are individually selected to play for this event. Many are current or former players in the Philadelphia Orchestra, Philadelphia Pops Orchestra, or Concerto Soloists of Philadelphia. In addition to playing with these orchestras, some of them teach privately in the Philadelphia area while others are employed as church organists and choir directors or have full time careers in instrumental performance.


Most of the choir members do not know each other when they come together to sing Messiah. Since there are no rehearsals, there are some individuals who know the music very well (some even have it memorized). Others are less familiar with some parts of it. The one thing they have in common is a love for this great work. Since there are no rehearsals, individuals come from a great distance for this opportunity to participate.